Lynette Brown-Sow’s life experiences have taught her that volunteerism provides a solid foundation for career success.
Whether serving as President of L.M. Brown Management Group, her own consulting firm, or as Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations at Community College of Philadelphia, Brown-Sow (pronounced So) has found that complex social issues are far simpler to solve if communities, businesses and governments work together.
As a child, Lynette conducted her first community outreach effort by selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. Over the years, she became an unrelenting volunteer in community-based movements that strengthened the economy and created new services in West and Southwest Philadelphia. By the age of 15, she had earned the adult-sized task of managing the campaign office of her mentor, Senator Hardy Williams.
Lynette’s array of communication skills and effective problem-solving techniques were learned on city streets as a volunteer. Her education provided her with the knowledge she would later use to help public agencies, businesses and educational institutions craft community-centered models of operations. In 1968, she graduated from West Philadelphia High School, and went on to earn a diploma in programming from the Institute of Computer Sciences (1969), a BS in Administration from Antioch University, (1979) and a M.S.S. in Policy, Planning and Development from Bryn Mawr College (1981). She has held appointments as adjunct faculty at Antioch University and taught in the Mental Health/Social Services Department at Community College of Philadelphia. In addition, she has lectured at Temple University and Bryn Mawr College.
As a young adult, Lynette served as a change agent in behavioral healthcare, where she advocated the design of culturally relevant and culturally sensitive health-care systems. As Chair of the Board of Directors of The Consortium, a behavioral health-care organization that pioneered the strategy of balancing the input of community leaders and medical experts, Brown-Sow championed patient-centered models that fit the health-care models to the patient, not the patients to the system. She also worked to expand health-care service access into neighborhoods. She has chaired and served on the board of one of the largest mental health agencies in the country.
In the workplace, Brown-Sow has blended business competencies and management skills into her efforts to design community-based initiatives. Three phrases best describe her professional persona: change agent, consensus builder, and community cheerleader and coach. Yet her greatest gift, her friends and colleagues say, is an ability to communicate with different people and leverage political, ethnic and economic diversity in a way that benefits the collective community.
In 1980, L.M. Brown Management Group was founded and certified as a minority/female- owned consultant firm. The firm provides professional services to corporations, non-profits, and governmental entities. As an entrepreneur, she helped to create Health Pass, one of the nation’s first health insurance organizations (HIO), in the mid-1980s, Health Pass was a new idea born from a decision by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to privatize health care for people on public assistance. Privatization generated heated protests among the poor who feared the change would lock them out of hospital emergency rooms and deprive them of quality healthcare. Health Pass, the first state-backed health insurer, drew upon grass-roots input to invent a new concept - an HIO, which could provide families with greater flexibility and yet still help manage escalating costs.
Over the years, Brown-Sow’s clients have included HealthAmerica, Inc.; SEPTA; the U.S. Department of Labor; the Urban League of Philadelphia - Leadership Institute; the Philadelphia Housing Authority; Homemakers, Inc.; and the Southwest Community Redevelopment Corporation. Her firm was involved in conducting the market research study on the innovative Hope 6 Housing Project Development in Capitol Hill, D.C., a pioneering development that blended families with low-, middle-, and high-incomes into one community. Meanwhile, her work with grass-roots, community organizations continued, as Brown-Sow also conducted community training, and worked with more than 100 organizations to assess communities’ needs, establish goals and priorities, establish organizations/community development corporations, and help coordinate community development plans.
In 1985, Brown-Sow was selected for the Community Leadership Seminars, a prestigious program that brings together high-profile business and community leaders in an effort to create a more synergistic and cohesive strategy for addressing regional challenges. In 1996, upon successful completion of two training programs, she received a “Governing for Non-Profit Excellence” certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Business and a certificate for “Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management” from Harvard’s Graduate School of Administration.
In January of 1991, Mayor Edward G. Rendell appointed Brown-Sow Deputy Mayor of Administration. In that position, she was responsible for managing the Mayor’s appointees to all boards, commissions, and non-civil service positions. She served as liaison to numerous businesses, community and public service groups and managed special projects and events.
Brown-Sow served as co-chair of Mayor Nutter’s transition team and has been appointed by the Mayor as co-chair of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment. Because of her volunteer work of over 40 years, with The Consortium, a behavioral health organization, in 2007 named their new center at 5501 Chestnut Street, The Lynette Brown Center of Hope. Her volunteer affiliations include membership in the Forum of Executive Women; she serves on the Boards of the Avenue of the Arts, Youth Advocate Program, an international youth service organization, YAP Ireland, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees, and Women Empowerment Initiative.
In March of 2009, Brown-Sow was named national Communicator of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. In September 2009, she was appointed to the Steering Committee of the Eisenhower Fellowships Philadelphia International Leadership Initiative. She has also been appointed by the Board of Judges to a life-long appointment on the Board of City Trusts.
Since July 1995, Brown-Sow has served in her current cabinet-level position at Community College of Philadelphia, where she leads the staff handling marketing, advertising, public relations, publications, special events, and government and community relations. Since her arrival, the College’s students and mission are more visible in local media, and the College’s community partnerships have increased. In addition, the College’s marketing and publications have earned the staff national honors and acclaim.
Currently, Brown-Sow’s professional membership includes the Avenue of the Arts, the Board of City Trusts, Cheyney University, Girard College, the Hardy Williams Education Fund, Legacy of Love Foundation, Universal Companies, Women’s Empowerment, YAP Ireland, Youth Advocate Program, the Association of Business and Professional Women, the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, the Forum of Executive Women, the Association of Collegiate Conference & Event Directors International, the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, and the National Black Public Relations Society. She serves on the marketing and communications commission of The Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which sets the standards for marketing, philanthropy and alumni relations for more than 3,200 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations in 55 countries.